A Rural View of the 1998 Elections

The 1998 elections are history. What do they tell us about rural issues and the future of our rural areas in America? The national picture has really not changed that much as the Republican Party (GOP) still retains control of both houses of Congress.

The GOP believes in no governmental interference in the rural economy (except GATT , NAFTA, WTO, and pro-banking and pro-corporate economic and tax measures). The GOP believes in tax cuts for the very wealthy firms and individuals, a cancellation of all aid to small farmers, welfare people, laboring people, and anyone who is not a member of the capital and wealthy class.

The GOP believes in cutting the federal budget spending for any purpose that does not directly benefit big business interests, but in spending more federal money on defense and corporate welfare.

The GOP believes in cutting the taxes of the large corporations, the wealthy class and shifting the tax burden onto the middle class and the working population.

The GOP believes in the continued sacrifice of the small family farmer to the brutal competition of the global market place where corporate interests retain all the advantages.

The GOP also believes in the massive regimentation and control of the food system where the production, processing, and the distribution of our food is controlled by a handful of corporations. This policy will insure the demise of all small businesses in the food sector that produce, process, or distribute food.

In the eleventh hour, prior to election, the GOP leadership in the federal Congress did permit some emergency funding of the farm community. However, this was just a check-writing exercise which was not designed to have any impact upon the control or adjustment of agricultural commodities.

Without, such supply control the price of agricultural commodities will continue to remain at record low levels. This will continue to force the small farmers out of the rural areas and out of the production process. This process, (the lack of supply adjustment) will continue to accelerate the current trend to larger and larger concentrations of land and agricultural production resources into fewer and fewer hands. This is the death knell for the small farmer in America.

Yet, the GOP, and to a great extent the Democratic Party, somehow manage to lead the rural population down this trail of tears, while at the same time maintaining the fiction that both old parties are in favor of the family farm. This is the worst lie that has been laid upon the family farmer. It far outranks any of the Lewinsky lies that may have been told, because this fiction strikes at the very heart of the economic vitality of the rural areas and the small family farmers of America.

This fiction, and the corporate agenda that it camouflages, is insuring the demise of our rural economy. The family farmer is the backbone of the rural economy, and without the small family farmer, there is no rural economy.

The GOP agenda, and to a great extent the Democratic Party's agenda for agriculture is one of cheap food prices. This cheap food policy enables both of the major political parties to hold down the rate of inflation. This enables both parties to brag about what a good job they are doing in the handling of the economy, which is always a major factor in any federal election.

These low commodity prices also enable the food corporations to make maximum profit when they buy, process and retail the food products. They buy the agricultural commodity at a low price and sell it at price that is often four or five times higher than the raw commodity price. The corporations that are selling cars and other consumer goods also have a larger share of the consumer dollar, because the less the consumer pays for food the more money he has to spend on non-food items.

To insure a cheap commodity price for agricultural and other commodities, both political parties are committed to a strong dollar, and a tight money supply, a zero inflation rate, high interest rates and low growth rate for the economy, and a global economy. Both parties protect the banks and the creditors, first, last and always. A small farmer's interests will never be placed ahead of the banker's and the creditor's interest, because both parties have members that are bankers or shareholders of banks, or the banks have bankrolled the election of the Congressional members of both parties.

Both parties also protect the interests of the giant corporations, as a small farmer's interest will never to advanced by Congress in the face of corporate opposition.

The global economy was engineered by the trans-national corporations, for their own benefit, and not for the benefit of the United States citizenry, least of all for the benefit of the small farmers of America. Both major parties are waltzing to the tune of the multi-national corporations as they play their global economic song.

Washington, Penn.
Email lhamilt@cobweb.net

Another Dissatisfied Customer

Whereas President Eisenhower warned of a military industrial complex siphoning off billions in unneeded military hardware that wasn't wanted by the Pentagon, we are confronted with another and another greed-bag organization!

The HMO-driven medical insurance racket wherein a patient's doctor's required treatment is overruled by some hack employed by the HMO is another example. Forty-four million Americans aren't covered by any health care plan but we are treated instead by a modern version of "pie in the sky."

The NASA excursions to outer space while the Earth wallows in pollution is purely "pie" for the NASA staff and the contractors who furnish the "Sky Lab" components!

Enough! I say "In Your Eye" to both Congress and the White House!


Tallahassee, Fla.

Don't Trust Clinton

Regarding Michael Moore's article of December, 1998, titled "Newt, We Hardly Screwed Ye," Mr. Moore is right about Mr. Gingrich but he is dead wrong about President Clinton. I quote, "I AM THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA!! ... Get back to work, pass me a universal health care bill by Christmas, etc." President Clinton, himself, sabotaged universal health care the first time around by selling out to Wall Street and the insurance industry and refusing to even consider the single payer health insurance plan. The debate, therefore, was lost before it even started. And the [President] is all set to sell out Social Security to Wall Street, allowing Wall Street brokers and Mutual Fund managers to dip their dirty fingers into Social Security funds. Clinton plans to do to Social Security, via privatization, what he did to welfare deform, abolish it as we know it. Sick to death of Wall Street Willie. Stop privatization now. Either impeach Willie or pray for gridlock for the rest of his term.


State College, Penn.

Stand Up for Justice

An open letter to the United States Congress: In 1954 the Supreme Court of the United States ruled for justice and equality in Brown vs. Board of Education. By the 1960s Congress had mustered enough courage to pass several civil rights acts. By passing these acts Congress went on record that racial discrimination would not be tolerated in this country. It was the law of the land!

Is the Congress of the 90s as courageous as the 60s House and Senate? Has the Christian Right "got you buffaloed"? Have the gay bashers and the "bible thumpers" (they're usually one and the same) intimidated you? Can Congress stand up for justice and equality again? How many Matthew Shepards will it take before you say, "Enough is enough"?

We all know that just passing a law does not cure all ills, but we have to start somewhere. If the Civil Rights Acts had not been passed, Jim Crow would still be the norm in the South.

With these thoughts in mind we urge all members of the U.S. Congress to PASS The "Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 1998."


Lebanon, Tenn.
Email: dsweeton@aol.com

Impeachment Effort Invites Contempt

Whoever said an elephant never forgets wasn't kidding! That beastly image of the Republican Party comes to mind in this current farce of the impeachment articles against the President.

It's been 24 years since articles of impeachment in a real crime were filed against then-President Nixon, and Republicans have stewed ever since.

These partisans were strangely silent during the investigation of then-President Reagan for shipping weapons to Iran during our hostage crisis, and for funding contra rebels with cocaine sales in our country, and no one disputes those actions.

It reinforces that these partisans are small-minded and mean-spirited, and presently fit the description of "dirty old men" in these congressional proceedings.

Their activities remind me why my parents and their parents and their parents were all Democrats, and why the American people will hold these partisan proceedings in disgust and contempt.

Dubuque, Iowa

Clinton Should Resign

"I will ask the lawyers to find a way around the Constitution, so we can have search and seizure in Chicago housing projects." This was a shocking public statement for a sitting President to make; and enough to warrant impeachment, I thought when I heard it. Under the oath he took to become a lawyer in Arkansas, Clinton was guilty of misprision when he failed to inform the court that Monica Lewinsky's deposition was perjured; instead, he perjured himself.

I was asked to run for the state legislature, as a Democrat. I remember my father yelling at the radio, "Give 'em Hell, Harry!" I have always championed the underdog, worked for more equality among us. But the new Democratic Party no longer believes in what I believe; and Bill Clinton is the standard bearer. Clinton gave us GATT; Republican presidents hadn't been able to do so. Democrats still loyal to Clinton are operating on reflex motion; they haven't noticed the changes in philosophy that out- Republican the Republicans.

Family and friends I know who were life-long Democrats, people to whom that mattered more than other ties, have left the Party, and still there are those of you remaining faithful to a man who deserves no loyalty; particularly on the pages of The Progressive Populist.

When I was growing up, "A chicken in every pot," was the rallying cry. Now the unstated Republican motto seems to be "Two jobs for everyone." Workers tell me they can't live on the wages from one job; while working at two just to get by, doesn't allow them much chance to feel like a human being. Almost no one has noticed that GATT has already--yes, already!--taken away our sovereignty as a nation. But no, undiminished and undeserving loyalty is still handed to the unworthy recipient occupying the White House. If for no other reason than this, and overlooking his extraordinary unworthiness, Democrats should be happy to see him leave office.

I find it extraordinarily pathetic, that Democrats take the side of Clinton against Paula Jones; for that's where the trouble is--the highest executive in the nation perjuring himself to deny the rightful protest. of a young working woman against advances made to her by her boss. I remember when my union took my part against then-powerful Pan American Airways when I had a grievance against them. Where are the unions now? Clinton has helped kill them.

Amherst, New Hampshire

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